CUPRA is taking a significant step forward as a brand with the unveil of the CUPRA Formentor, the first model developed exclusively for the brand.
Since the CUPRA brand spun off from SEAT, it has been building performance versions of the Spanish manufacturer’s vehicles. However, the Formentor is the firm’s first standalone model. It uses the same Volkswagen Group base as SEAT's cars but gets its own unique sporty SUV styling.
If you’ve spent any amount of time in SEAT's latest models the Formetor’s interior will look familiar. It has a dark ambience with plenty of black materials punctuated by CUPRA's signature bronze trimmings. These surround the trio of air vents as well as the wheel-mounted badge and multi-function controls.
With its pricier performance specification, the quality of materials used throughout is like a top-spec SEAT model, so the build quality and premium feel is top notch. Meanwhile, the floating central screen is bright and easy to use, while the digital cockpit elevates the cabin further.
Many manufacturers have tried to make SUVs look sporty with varying degrees of success, but there’s no denying CUPRA has nailed the aesthetic of the Formentor. It has the traditional chunky SUV look, but the front end narrows into the angular grille and, coupled with the narrow headlights, give an imposing, aggressive face.
There are also plenty of sharp creases in the bodywork that accentuate its width, while the bronze theme continues on the outside with the alloy wheels. There are also black side skirts and wheel arches that add a rugged edge to this sporty model.
As is expected of high-specification models these days, the Formentor comes packed with the latest technology, both in the cabin and with regards to safety equipment. The dashboard is home to a 12-inch infotainment system, which can be controlled one of three ways – either through touch, voice or gesture control. It’s also connected wirelessly to Apple CarPlay or through a wired Android Auto connection, meaning you can control your smartphone safely while driving.
The driver assistance and safety feature are plentiful, and include a predictive adaptive cruise control system that used GPS data to slow the car for corners if necessary, blind spot detection and exit assist.
While CUPRA models have typically used powerful petrol engines, the Formentor will also be available with a plug-in hybrid variant. This uses a 1.4-litre petrol engine and an electric motor with a 13kWh battery that provides a combined 242bhp and 400Nm of torque with an electric range of 31 miles.
The petrol option is a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit making 306bhp and 400Nm of torque, with a four-wheel drive system for improved grip. Both engines have a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and come with four drive modes: Comfort, Sport, CUPRA and Individual.
There are two UK trim levels for the CUPRA Formentor; VZ2 and VZ3. Both come with a TSI 4Drive Petrol engine producing 310PS with a 7-speed DSG-automatic gearbox.
Non-metallic (No extra Cost):
Premium Metallic (£800):
Matte finish (£1,800):
CUPRA has been starting to make a name for itself since splitting apart from Seat to become its own thing back in 2018. It’s largely managed by making go-faster versions of the Spanish firm’s existing models - up until now, that is.
The Formentor - which we’re looking at today - is the first car that CUPRA has had a proper hand in creating from the ground-up, making it a great showcase of what the firm can do. But what does it offer? Let’s find out.
CUPRA’s access to the wider Volkswagen Group means that it’s got a great backing of technology and powertrains to make the most of. The Formentor sits on the MQB Evo platform that underpins the latest Golf, for instance, while the car’s engine has already found favour in cars like the T-Roc R.
However, CUPRA has been allowed to show real flair with both the interior and exterior - but we’ll get to those in more detail shortly.
This CUPRA uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine with 306bhp and 400Nm of torque. The Formentor is available with a variety of less powerful petrol engines - as well as a plug-in hybrid - though for the minute this 2.0-litre TSI petrol is the most potent version you can get. It’ll only be topped by the limited-edition 2.5-litre-powered version, though this will only be available in left-hand-drive.
This engine powers the Formentor from 0-60mph in 4.7 seconds and onwards to a top speed of 155mph. CUPRA also says it’ll return up to 33.2mpg with CO2 emissions of 193g/km.
Though the Formentor’s engine has been used to power performance-orientated cars like the Golf R and Audi S3, its deployment in the CUPRA is a far more laid-back affair; this isn’t a car that screams about its go-faster abilities.
It’s relatively comfortable with a ride that doesn’t sit on the overly firm end of things, while the brakes and steering are effective without being too heavy. It’s even quiet and settled on the motorway, while the ultra-smooth engine delivers a good amount of character - though it’s far from ‘shouty’.
The Formentor toes the line between crossover and regular hatch. It’s not massively high-riding but doesn’t lie close to the ground like a more conventional car might. It’s a cool-looking thing, that’s for sure, with all manner of styling features dotted across its design.
The interior of the Formentor benefits from Volkswagen Group’s latest architecture, which means that it’s knee-deep in the very sharpest tech. However, the key basics have been covered off as well; it’s spacious up front, while there’s a surprising amount of head- and legroom for those sitting in the back.
There’s also 420 litres of boot space on offer, though you can increase this by lowering the rear seats flat, too.
Standard equipment for the Formentor is very good, with the car’s huge twelve-inch central screen making up the bulk of the tech offerings. Nearly all of the car’s functions are located here, which does mean it can take a little bit of getting used to.
‘Our’ car was in VZ2 specification, which brought features such as a heated steering wheel and electrically-adjustable driver’s seat as standard. That said, even on entry-level Formentor models the kit levels are good, with highlights including three-zone air conditioning, LED headlights and wireless phone charging - among other features.
CUPRA has really shown that it’s able to do with the new Formentor. It’s a great example of what can happen when it’s allowed to dictate what a car looks, feels and drives like. However, it also benefits from the backing of Volkswagen Group-sourced knowhow.
This is a car that really does add some extra sparkle to daily drives and helps to give an idea of what we can look forward to seeing from CUPRA in the future.
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